Did you just earn your ATC credentials? Maybe you’ve had them for a while and stumbled upon this article. Either way – how AT’s have listed the abbreviations to signify their credentials, degrees, and licenses is often varied. In the medical profession, credentials, licenses, and degrees are used to show a person’s level of authority and training. It is common to see these listed as abbreviations behind the person’s name. However, these abbreviations are not always listed correctly. While some are simply listed incorrectly, the order of some is just a matter of individual preferences. Let’s take a look at the different abbreviations and how they should be listed.
Degrees signify the level of education achieved by an individual. Academic degrees should always be listed first. You should only list your highest academic degree achieved unless your next lowest degree is in a different field of study. For doctoral students who are classified as ABD (All But Dissertation), ABD should not be used as it is not an academic degree, license, or credential.
A license shows that a person has been granted by an authority (usually the state government) to engage in a certain activity or occupation that is unlawful without holding the license. Licenses should always be listed immediately after academic degrees and before credentials.
A credential is given to a person to signify they are an authority in a certain area, in addition to showing confidence in skill. Credential comes from the word ‘credible’, meaning believable, reliable, or trustworthy. The Board of Certification (BOC) is a credentialing agency. Having the ATC credential shows that you have completed a course of study and/or examination that shows you have met the requirements and standards of skill and knowledge. If you have more than one credential, the credentials should be listed in order of difficulty (ex. MD before ATC). If the level of difficulty is the same, they should be listed in chronological order.
Let’s take a look at some Frequently Asked Questions we get about listing abbreviations.
Should I list every degree and credential I’ve earned?
No, you should not list every degree and credential. For example, let’s look at Susie Que. She has a bachelor’s in Athletic Training (BS), an MBA, and her doctoral degree in Athletic Training (DAT). Because her bachelor’s and doctorate degrees are in the same field, she would not list both. She would, however, list her MBA because it is in a different field of study. Her abbreviations would look like this:
Susie Que, DAT, MBA, LAT, ATC
Many students are entering 3+2 programs, earning a bachelor’s degree in three years, and staying in the same program to earn their Master’s degree in Athletic Training in the following two years. If you are in a program such as this, you would still only list your Master’s degree unless your bachelor’s degree was in something very different. For example, John Smith earned his bachelor’s in Allied Health and then completed his Master’s in Athletic Training. Even though his bachelor’s degree is not in athletic training, Allied Health is considered the same area of study since Athletic Training is an allied health profession. His abbreviations would look like this:
John Smith, MAT, LAT, ATC
Do I list my abbreviations with or without periods?
All abbreviations are listed without periods unless specified by the agency granting the degree, license, or credential.
What about using LATC or ATC/L?
Many athletic trainers hold both a license and a certification. ATC/L should not be used because it would indicate that the credential is more important than the license. Your license is your legal right to practice as an athletic trainer while your credential simply means you have met minimum standards. LATC should not be used because it modified a registered mark. The license and credential should always be listed separately.
I have more than one credential. Which order should they be in?
Credentials are always in order of difficulty of obtainment. For example, Michael Scott is an Athletic Trainer and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). The ATC requires a college degree and years of clinical experience. The EMT certification does not have a degree requirement and requires fewer hours of clinical experience. His abbreviations would be listed as:
Michael Scott, MAT, LAT, ATC, EMT
I have credentials in other areas. How should those be listed?
If you have credentials from other bodies, you should consider the level of difficulty and the chronological order. For example, Leslie Knope is an Athletic Trainer who earned her Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification before she was an AT. Although she earned her CSCS first, the ATC is a more difficult credential to obtain and should be listed first. Her abbreviations should be listed as:
Leslie Knope, MAT, LAT, ATC, CSCS
Listing abbreviations correctly is important because it aligns us with standards that other professionals use. Be sure you are listing yours correctly!